10 May 2023

Search and rescue in Torres Strait for local business owner

| Matt Nicholls
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Denne Bourke is a much-loved figure on Thursday Island. Picture: Matt Nicholls

POLICE are coordinating a search and rescue for a prominent Thursday Island resident after his un-manned outrigger canoe was spotted 100 metres offshore from T.I. on Wednesday afternoon.

Cape York Weekly understands the missing man is the iconic “coffee man”, Denne Bourke.

The 38-year-old was last seen paddling his vessel in the channel between Horn and Thursday Islands at approximately 3.45pm.

A search of the area was immediately launched by Thursday Island Water Police, assisted by Australian Maritime Safety Authority, utilising officers in boats and local aerial assets, including a QG Air helicopter. Nearby islands were also searched.

At approximately 11pm last night, a member of the public located a cap belonging to the missing man on Channel Rock.

Search efforts recommenced at first light this morning focusing on this area, including rotary craft from QG Air and private businesses. The AMSA fixed wing Cairns-based aircraft, Challenger was also tasked.

Torres Strait Patrol Group Acting Inspector Andrew Pool praised the community, businesses and government agencies alike who have banded together to help find the man.

“Since the alarm was raised, the resourcefulness of the people here has shone through. I want to thank everyone who has come forward to assist in the search,” Acting Inspector Pool said.

“Every effort possible is being made to find this man and our thoughts remain with his family, friends and fellow islanders.

“Close support is being provided to the man’s loved ones and I know they are very appreciate of the goodwill shown by those who call this place home.”

Mr Bourke is a much-loved figure in the Torres Strait community through his Coffee Department business. He is an avid supporter of local organisations and is part of the Torres Strait Outriggers group.

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